Ella Knight: Her Life & Times.



Ella 1982 Trowbridge
Ella at Trowbridge Folk Festival 1983

Ella Laura Elizabeth Knight


by John Langford


Ella was born on 6th May 1932 to Edric Richard & Emily Adams, in Winchester. She had a younger sister Hazel, who is here with us today. Ella’s father was a stoker on the ill fated battle cruiser HMS Hood and, luckily, was transferred to another ship before the Hood was sunk. There were just 3 survivors  


They later moved to Swanick near Fareham. During the war years, with their mother working and a father in the navy Ella & Hazel lived with their paternal grandparents, Elizabeth & Richard where they were well looked after. Elizabeth made them dresses with matching knickers. Richard was a gardener at the local ‘big house’ & lived in the gardener’s cottage. He and Ella bonded and doted on each other. This was a very happy period in Ella’s life & certainly formed her love of gardening. When Richard died they both had to return home to their parents. That was not an easy time for them.


Ella remembers seeing propaganda leaflets being dropped by German  planes, watching the dog fights & the doodlebugs. Together with her mother & Hazel she would take shelter under the stairs which she hated. It was perhaps that that caused her life-long claustrophobia.


Ella enjoyed school. She really enjoyed the nature walks which formed her love of the countryside. She also enjoyed, & excelled at reading & poetry. She wrote an award winning essay that she had to read out to the school. She also took to acting in the school plays. The one subject she really hated was sport!


Ella developed TB when she was young & had a cloud on her lung. She was confined to bed for 6 months & so missed the end of her schooling. Chest infections dogged her for the rest of her life.


As teenagers Ella & Hazel were keen on speedway. Ella also took part in cycle speedway. They both rode motorbikes and Ella would drool over the old British classic bikes whenever she saw one.


Much to her parents’ dismay at 21 Ella gave birth to Linda. In keeping with the practice of the times she was disowned and despite her best efforts and much to her great distress, Linda had to go for adoption. The happy outcome was, when in 1985 Linda traced Ella, they were able to keep in touch and Ella became a grandmother over night to Wayne, Donna & Wesley


Living back in the Portsmouth area after Linda’s birth, Ella worked at Johnsons baby powder factory. She also worked with Shirley at a garage in Fareham – Ella on pumps, Shirley in the office. That was the start of a long friendship.


Ella married Harry in 1953, and was very happy. They lived at near Fareham, in a little wooden bungalow.


They decided to move to escape the development that was going on all around them and had seen a little cottage at St Allen when they were in Cornwall on holiday. They moved down in the 60’s & bought Ventontrissick. They acquired dogs, cats & a goose. The dogs were the first of a long line including Ben, Mutley, Little Ben, Holly & Polly. All rescue dogs or in need of a good home.


When Ella went into the Care home Holly went to Cheryl & Roger and settled happily much to Ella’s relief. Is Holly here today?


Ella & Harry both worked for Holywell Diary. Ella is still friends with people from her days on the milk round & many have memories of her delivering the milk, barefoot with her dog Ben. Bare feet, Ella’s  trademark, until more recent years when she became diabetic. It did cross our mind when we came to write the dress code. Dare we?


Tragically their cottage burned down & together with Shirley who was living with them they lost everything. Ella & Harry parted & Ella lived in a caravan on the site of the cottage before moving to The Field. She relished the seclusion, the wild life & bird life, the trees were always adorned with bird feeders. She was comfortable in solitude though she did go on to have 2 other long term relationships first with Paul, then Andy, and remained good friends with them. Both of whom are here today.


After losing the cottage at Ventontrissick Ella worked as a taxi driver & at the Wheel Inn Tresillian.


Being made redundant from the dairy was the spark that started her gardening career, being taken on at Comprigney gardens in Truro which supplied local shops with fruit & vegetables.


Ella was made redundant again when Comprigney was sold & got a job in the kitchen at Treliske hospital. She hated it. So it was back again to Comprigney, until the owner died. She then went to Killiow Gardens where she gained her knowledge & love of Camelias. Ella described these as the happiest days of her life. She loved the gardens & would talk about the bird life including a family of nuthatches that nested in the potting shed. Ella got on well with Penrose family & Mrs Penrose senior was always known as “mother” by Ella. Described big parties at the house to which everyone was invited. She would also house sit at Tretheague house at Stithians, another large house owned by the Penrose family. Eventually the nursery at Killiow was closed & Ella worked as a jobbing gardener before starting work at Trewithen nursery. When she finally finished work at aged 82. She had worked there for 22 years. The family threw a party to celebrate her 20th year.


As well as working in the nurseries Ella would attend Cornwall Garden Society flower shows at Falmouth & Boconnoc & enter her camellias, often winning awards. Lots of friendly rivalry between her & Oliver.   She built up a large collection of Camelias & luckily, a few months before she died she arranged for some to go to Kelnan Nursery at Gulval where they are being used for propagation & the rest to Enys gardens, Penryn.  More of that from Alan later). As a member of the Garden society & enjoyed trips to visit other gardens in Devon & Cornwall with friends.


In the mid 90s her caravan burnt down, Ella had a lucky escape. Friends clubbed together to buy a new one. She also had a narrow escape when her Morris 1000 was hit by a swinging crane on the back of a passing lorry. Luckily Ella was not in the car but one of her beloved dogs was killed & the car written off. Ella also virtually lost the sight in one eye when she was watching the Morris team performing a mummers play. The wooden sword wielded by St George or the Turkish night broke & hit Ella in the eye. In spite of this life changing injury Ella was most reluctant to claim compensation from the Morris dance group saying “they are my friends” She took a lot of persuading that she was claiming from their insurance co not them personally.


Folk music was a huge part of her life. She & Harry went first in the 60s when the Folk Cottage started. Ella was very keen but Harry not so & he didn’t appreciate late nights when there was the milk round to do in the early morning. After their separation, Ella started to go again & became a regular at the Folk Cottage, & was one of the select few who got to sit on top of the piano at the side of the stage. Shirley & Ella had a joint birthday party in 1966 at the folk cottage, an all-nighter. Lots of the artists were there. Ella also attended the Count House at Botallack where she became good friends with Brenda Wootton and her family, attending events & spending social times with them. The Folk Cottage moved to Rose and Ella took over the running of the club with Carrie & I then eventually organizing it on her own for many years. After several changes of venue the club settled into The Swan at Truro, finally closing in the 1980s.      


Ella would coordinate the bookings with other clubs at Penzance, Falmouth & Par so the performers worked on a circuit. Part of the deal of running the club was accommodating the performers & some were very dubious about the caravan & elsan facilities. For a while she ran a club at Juliets Well, Camelford. Many of the performers became life long friends & remained in touch with her to this day. Ella was also involved with the Falmouth Folk Festival in the late 1970s, which became the Cornwall Folk Festival & Ella was on the committee for a few years. She was a recipient of the coveted Charlie Bate Memorial Award


Ella drove up to both the iconic Cambridge & Norwich Folk Festivals. At the Village pump festival in Wiltshire she was very much part of the organization helping with the stewarding & working in the Artists box office. Even when she no longer drove she would get friends to take her up there & she would camp with friends Joy & Will. The last few years she was unable to get to the festival but in 2014 Richard & Kate took her up there for the day. She was treated like royalty, Festival organiser John Alderslade took her for a tour the site in a golf buggy. She met up again with many of the regulars & friends of the Festival & of course many of her favourite performers.


In later years & even when at the Care Home Ella loved to attend events & her many friends helped her to get to concerts & performances. She was bitterly disappointed in the last few weeks because she was not well enough to see Tom Paxton at the Hall for Cornwall, having seen him first time round when it was the old City Hall,  or Wizz & Ralph at the Tolmen Centre.


As well as the clubs & concerts Ella loved the annual events like Padstow May Day & Mazey Day at Penzance. She was a regular at these. It was a great sorrow to her when she could no longer go. She told Carrie she cried when she saw May Day on the TV because she could not be there.


Ella loved a good party, & had one for her 60th, 70th & 80th. She would announce a few months beforehand – “Carrie will organise me a party!” Great events, 80th attended by about 100 friends many had travelled from “up country”. Lots of music & dancing too at the earlier ones.


                              Another of Ella’s passions were her Morris 1000s but we will be hearing about this from Alan, of the Morris 1000 Club.


Ella was a regular church goer & made many good friends there. They were very supportive, visiting her & getting her to services when she could no longer drive. Many are with us today.


Ella adopted Cornwall as her home in a very wholehearted way. She loved the countryside, beaches & coast & long walks with her dogs & good friends like Roger. When she gave up driving she would travel to places by public transport. She dearly missed the countryside & coast when she could no longer get out & about. She continued to go to Truro once a week up until the time she went into Antron Care Home & enjoyed meeting up with friends. She relished chatting to people & soon got to know the staff in Tescos & Nick, the Big Issue seller, who took her under his wing.


As Ella’s health & mobility deteriorated her friends worried about her living in such seclusion & isolation. She had huge support from her excellent neighbours Richard & Kate who went beyond the call of duty to help. She was determined not to get any professional help & those of us who tried to suggest it were given short shrift & told to shut up on more than one occasion. Eventually things came to a head with hospital admissions & falls & she was persuaded to go to Antron Manor Care Home on a temporary basis. Her stay became prolonged but it took many months before she admitted she would not go back to the caravan.



She was very happy at Antron, the staff enjoyed her lively company & she was well looked after, enjoying wonderful food & regular visits from her many friends. She vehemently resisted going to Treliske until the doctor said I’m calling an ambulance. But she was made most comfortable there and well looked after. She had so many visitors and they ended up asking people not to ring up as they were blocking the switch-board. We are all so relieved that she ended her days in warmth & comfort.


Summing up of Ella; A very down-to-earth woman, she planned her own funeral several years ago & asked (or should that be told?) Carrie to organise it. She had signed a Do Not Resuscitate order & when her treatment for pneumonia was not successful decided that she had had enough & it be discontinued. Independent, enjoyed her own company & solitude but also loved being social & seeing people, made excellent & lasting friendships. Very determined, could be inflexible, knew her own mind & difficult to change it. (some have a phrase for it) She had a tough life but did not let it detract from her joy of living & finding pleasure in simple things. Some words have come up often in the many tributes that have been paid to Ella – legend, colourful, much loved. Young at heart, a dynamic force, someone who stuck to her own principals & lived life as she wanted & on her own terms.


An extract from Alan’s tribute;


Ella as everybody knew had a vast collection of camellias at her home of which she really treasured, with her approval these have been donated to Enys Gardens near Penryn where they are restoring the vast gardens that were abandoned for several years. They intend to display them as ‘Ella’s Camellia Collection’ with her story on view for all to see, an excellent and permanent tribute to her, available for all to visit. It is hoped in future to hold an annual ‘Ella’s Day’ at Eny’s in conjunction with the Morris Minor Club. This has yet to be rubber stamped but would be perfect I am sure you would all agree, we will keep Carrie up to date when we have more information.


The Funeral of Ella Knight.

Ella’s green cardboard coffin.



Funerals are by their very nature usually sad and sombre ceremonies and rightly so on most occasions as the grief and loss are such burdensome and depressing factors. Sometimes though, on rare occasions, it’s more appropriate to focus concentration on the happiness of the memories, the shared love and all the joys that occurred, during the life of the deceased.

 So it was at 2pm on Friday 10th March at The Trelawney Chapel of The Penmount Crematorium at Truro as the life and times of Ella Knight were marked at her beautifully fitting funeral service. Ella was a free spirited, wise, involved and opinionated, caring, kind and happy person who loved folk music as much as she loved Cornwall, Nature and Horticulture. Colin Hawke added an especially nice touch to the growing heap of garden flower bouquets by bringing a bunch of Camellias he’d grown from a cutting given to him by Ella many years previously!

As the mourners filed into the Chapel, easily filling it to beyond its original intended capacity, Mike Smith, Barrie Jarvis, Terry Broad and Alan Jewel – all time-served, long standing folk club musicians and members of “The Other Band” – were grouped together in a corner, playing happy ceilidh-type tunes for family and friends and this bright, cheerful music set the tone for the celebration of Ella’s long and varied, definitely eventful and mostly happy life. Ella’s green cardboard coffin, so typical of her commitment and support for needless wastage of natural resources and her natural inclination for recycling, was played in with TVs “The Last Of The Summer Wine” theme. ‘Great choice’, I thought; there was always something of the summer about Ella.

 After the opening prayers the Hymn: “All Things Bright & Beautiful” was sung by the congregation, its simple tune and lyric somehow in keeping with Ella’s simple uncomplicated outlook on and approach to life. Then a reading from the Bible before John Langford, aka John The Fish, a long term friend of Ella’s, took to the lectern to give his tribute in which he detailed Ella’s long and interesting life and career. Copies of this tribute can soon be found on a Facebook Page created especially in memory of Ella. Link: Ella Knight – A Memorial. After John there came his wife Carrie also a dear and long term friend of Ella’s who recited two poems: “The Glory Of The Garden.” by Rudyard Kipling and “When I Come To The End Of The Road.” (Anon.) both apt choices in reflecting Ella’s love of and work within horticulture. Richard Trethewey took centre stage next and played a delightful instrumental version of “Wild Mountain Thyme” and he was joined by the whole congregation as he then also sang a few rounds of the well known chorus. One of Ella’s favourite songs and it sounded so appropriate, so sweet and lovely in that setting.

 The Reverend Chris Parsons then said some prayers ending with “Our Father Who Art In Heaven” before Alan James of the Morris 1000 Club, that particular car being yet another of Ella’s passions, gave his tribute to Ella detailing her work and involvement with the club. Then Paula Rowe made her tribute as one more long term friend and companion, recalling happy times and anecdotes of events which had us all chuckling and nodding in agreement.

 Another hymn was sung by the thronged room before the Commendation and Committal prayers were made. This time: “The Day Thou Gavest Lord Is Ended.” Then “The Other Band” were joined by John The Fish, Richard Trethewey and myself to join in singing: “The Farewell Shanty”. Apparently Mervyn Vincent, who adapted the shanty, used to advise singers to “pick your own key”! Just as well too as I, not having properly sung the song before, and having no recollection of ever hearing Mervyn’s instructions, somehow accidentally sang my short solo; a one line part, in the bass harmony I was adding to the others’ verses and choruses, but, although I got a few odd looks, it didn’t seem to matter too much anyhow. It all just seemed right, somehow in keeping with everything else that afternoon, and I must say it was one of the brightest funerals I’ve ever attended even including some of the more boisterous and wild Irish funeral ceremonies I’ve been at in the distant past. Well done to Carrie & John, and everyone else who worked so hard to make this such a fitting farewell to a much loved lady who will be sadly missed but certainly fondly remembered for a very long time for all her efforts in supporting and nurturing Folk Music in and beyond the South West. 

Colin’s Camellias


Finally, if there’s anyone wanting free PDF files via email of:  (a) The Order of Service, (b) The Tribute Leaflet or  (c) The Full-colour Memorial Booklet, just send your email address to Sue Ellery-Hill at: sueellery@hotmail.com

Please Note: The tribute leaflet has same literary content as the Memorial Booklet, but only 2 photos). If you want a hard copy of the full-colour jobbie it’ll cost you £3 (including postage, payable via PayPal – using Sue’s email address for PayPal is easiest, failing that, a cheque by post). It’s easiest too, if you opt for the Full Colour Memorial Booklet, to get your own folders – as they’re over £3 each, plus there’s the extra weight and postage and that, says Sue, would be “too much hassle.”


Mic McCreadie. 13.03.2017





Ralph McTell & Others at The Folk Cottage at Mitchell 2015 Reunion Concert.

Great News!  Great News!  Great News!  Great News!  Great News!  Great News!  Great News!

The Folk Cottage at Mitchell, Reunion 2015 Full Length DVD is now available for sale.

DVD Sleeve #03Featuring performances from luminaries such as: John The Fish, Ralph McTell, Wizz Jones, Pete Berryman, Mick Bennett, Jonathon Xavier Coudrille, John P. Wood, Dave Deighton, The 4/5ths Jug Band, Jake Walton, Joe and Diane Partridge, Thorn & Roses, Bisquitry, (Mic McCreadie, Adrian O’Reilly and Dick Reynolds) and Stephen Hunt.

The Reunion Concert came to fruition on the afternoon of Monday 31st August 2015 and it was, without a shadow of doubt, a huge success.

Around mid morning, inside a huge marquee erected in the garden, a comprehensive, professional Sound System, with a live recording facility, was installed. Film Camera Manager, Marty Fitzpatrick also set up for a multi camera shoot. The earlier rain had stopped, then, as though bestowing goodwill on the venture, the sky cleared and the sun came out to shine down upon the beautiful surroundings and things slowly gathered pace. Invited guests began arriving, some of whom had travelled great distances just to be there to witness this historical musical event and what a delight the whole thing was!

The atmosphere was one of convivial harmony and happiness, aided and abetted by our hosts Robert & Lucy Brightley setting up a huge refectory table absolutely crammed with home baked cakes and assorted goodies with an unambiguous sign reading: ‘Help Yourself!’ Two large bowls of apples hand picked from their orchard flanked the entry to the massive marquee.

We were off to a flying start with a short introduction and his own poem: *“Toshering” from John The Fish. This was followed by a simply wonderful set, crammed with superb musicianship and deft humour, from Jonathon Xavier Coudrille. Jonathon’s amazing impromptu performance astonished one and all, especially his own song *“Burgers & Fries” and created a wonderful atmosphere that permeated the entire area! Sylvia Fletcher, Rowena Metters and Jinks Jenkins a.k.a. Thorn & Roses gave us a beautifully harmonic set, as they invariably do, including Harry Glasson’s *“Cornwall My Home.” Then a set from Dave Deighton accompanied by his wife Josie, playing some fancy self penned blues *“My Ship Went Sailing By” and ending with a rendition of Bob Dylan’s Girl From The North Country”.  Next we heard from John Philip Woods who’d cut his musical teeth in the original cottage. John song a song co-written with a friend: *“Wait For The Sun”. Now living in Oslo it was sheer chance that he was in the country just as the event was happening. Then it was the turn of The Four Fifths Jug Band, (Terry Broad, Alan Jewell and Kippy), and they soon had feet tapping with: *“Tim McGuire” as they filled the tent with their infectious music. One of the regulars from the early Folk Cottage days was Jake Walton and he, with Joe Partridge playing guitar accompaniment, brought  us back to earth with a few familiar songs of a sweet and sensitive nature i.e. * “Celtic Benediction”. Joe stayed on stage to accompany his sister Diana Johnstone who performed Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” and her own *“Spinning” and after this there was a ten minute interval so folk could mingle and have a good old chinwag and chat without affecting any musical performances. Then, interval over, the stage was given over to ‘Bisquitry’ who started off the second half of the concert with an eclectic set of songs including *“Columbus Stockade”. Folk Festival Fan and aficionado, Stephen Hunt was on next and sang some Gospel flavoured songs encouraging the audience to join in with him in: *“Hard Times Come again No More” and its rousing choruses which they did with relish! A true legend of British folk history then took to the stage in the form of Pete Berryman who played two of his own compositions: an instrumental medley and *“Red Paper Rose” before inviting yet another legend of the Folk Cottage, Mick Bennett, to come and join him.

The next two songs were superlative and though I suppose the last one; *“Smack Mary Anne”  might be described as slightly scurrilous, it was nevertheless immensely funny and had the listeners laughing with its lyrical content and curiously creative rhymes!

This brought us neatly to the highlight of the event; an appearance by Ralph McTell who gave us two wonderful songs: *“Hesitation Blues” and “The Girl From The Hiring Fair” then he left the stage after inviting Wizz Jones to come up and take his rightful place before the by now ecstatic crowd. Wizz also did two songs in his own highly inimitable style: *“The Glory Of Love” and one about a pigeon fancier! Wizz then brought Ralph back on to join him in finishing the proceedings with two more brilliant songs: Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees” and the foot-stomping *Honey Baby Blues”The 14 Songs marked * are those featured on the DVD.

It was a stunning musical climax to such an amazing, wonderful and absolutely beautiful afternoon. I’m truly glad to report that the full length DVD is unequivocal proof of all I report – and – it’s really pleasing to think that it’s all happening again this year too!

Will we see you there? Get in touch using the info below for details.

Through Facebook via Mic McCreadie page or directly through me by email: mic.4752@talktalk.net

The DVD can be purchased at **£10.00 per copy (with an additional £2.00 P&P by 1st Class Post if mailing is required).  Please make your cheque payable to me: Mic McCreadie and send it to:

86 Trehane Road,



TR14 7NU.

Alternatively, for a quicker turnaround, you can simply bank transfer the money to me via:

Account Number: 10532269

Sort Code: 11.01.32

Account Name: M. McCreadie.

Please remember to let me know via email (details above) if you make a Inter Bank Money Transfer and also to include your postal address and post code too. You can include any other contact info you like (i.e. email address or mobile number). As soon as I receive your cheque or transfer I’ll send your DVD (s).

** Profits after costs are deducted will be re-invested in future musical projects and DVD releases.


Mic McCreadie.


Peaks and Troughs (of Love)

Mic McCreadieThrough last week there were a series of peaks and troughs and all relating to love. The peaks were events of happiness that were a privilege and honour to be invited to share. The troughs were the saddening effects of love and loss; of losing a love. It began with a trough when my darling wife Chrissie and I heard the devastating news that a dear friend, a kind, caring and considerate woman had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and might have only weeks left in this life. This devastating news was made all the more tragic because diagnosis had taken so long that the dear lady had now become much too weak to be considered safe for urgent and radical surgery. I was angered and appalled to think that cuts in the Health Care Budget had perhaps now forced G.P.s to carefully consider the costs involved when ordering tests such as X-Rays or M.R.I. Scans. Perhaps due to this financial consideration the illness had been allowed to develop into a much more malevolent form and the lady had become weaker and weaker due to her inability to take sufficient nourishment. Her husband with whom she has shared over 60 years of marriage was to lose his loving partner, to be left to cope without the one person he so clearly cherished and loved and there had not been nearly enough time to accept and prepare for this catastrophe even though the family were magnificent in their efforts to support them both. My wife, Chrissie, and I were of course determined to help in any way we could but how could we ever address the deep pain and suffering that was to be his and hers in the days ahead?

Then a few days later there came a peak when an dear old friend ‘way down St Just, announced she and her long term loving partner were getting married later in the year. Would I be the Entertainments Manager for this event, and sort musicians who could add their special magic to the proceedings? Yes indeed I could and I felt that this was a pleasure, a privilege and an honour to be selected as a chap who had the abilities not to say experience to manage such an event. Plus there was that life affirming declaration of love intrinsic and integral to the life-long commitment in the marriage ceremony. Nice, and it brought a warming rush of happiness to my work day. I began to ask around all the likely musical candidates while we waited for confirmation of the times and dates.

Later that same day this warming glow of happiness was quietly snuffed out when my dear wife Chrissie and I attended a funeral. The ceremony was for a beautiful, loving young woman, a mother of two young children and the soul mate of her husband, who had succumbed to another devastating illness. This all the more tragic because she’d suffered through the distressing effects of treatments and gained two remissions in her illness only for the tumours to return and take her away from her family and friends. It was harrowing to witness the tears and pain of the young children, to hear the hurt and grief in the eulogies spoken with such sincerity, from friends and her deeply grieving husband. His courage to stand before the congregation and to do right by his dearly beloved wife was heart warming, uplifting even but it was also so very, very tragic and sad. The service itself was uncomplicated and easy and the atmosphere of love and the loss so evident in gathered mourners was almost palpable. The young wife was interred in a wicker coffin, in the dunes behind the church in a graveyard overlooking the sea and beach she loved so well and the town she’d loved and lived in. A beautiful spot certainly, enhanced too with the copious family flowers, but occupied much too early . . .

Next day a contrasting peak at the wedding reception for my friends Chris Symons (nee Harden) and Alan Symons, or Al as he’s usually known.

Two fine people, both musicians, who found love at the most unlikeliest times of their lives. Alan perhaps resigned to a solitary life and Chris scanning new horizons and opportunities. They met at rehearsals with the musical group Poachers Moon up in Dorset where ChrisDSC_0154 was living with her two daughters Heather and Briony, and with a mutual, and passionate, interest in music they found these common factors brought them ever closer. Work led to laughter, laughter led to love and things just clicked as they sometimes do, into a fairy tale romance and a bunch of dreams came true.

They were married on Saturday 02nd April in the church at Paul and held a wedding reception in the Station House pub at Marazion in the company of friends and family and where Heather and Briony made such beautiful bridesmaids too! It was a privilege and an honour to be invited to take part in their celebrations and my wife Chrissie and I give thanks to all from our glad hearts.

We wished them both the very best of everything for their mutual futures, that they’d share a fantastic, long and luxurious honeymoon away up in the mountain glens and lochs of the majestic Scottish Highlands but also urged them to: “Hurry back – won’t you?  There’s a lot of music to make and fun to be had in this developing year!“

From this happy occasion we made our way home via the hill top cemetery in the dunes to lay our flowers along with all the rest which were now carpeting the grave, beautiful, poignant and still. A sad and sobering reality . . .

Then . . .

The second occasion in which I felt privileged and honoured this week end was last night at the musical celebrations for my old friend Tony Franklin’s birthday. DSC_0157

This was held at The Punchbowl & Ladle, in Feock near Truro and I was truly surprised, but delighted, to be invited to host or M.C. the evening by Tony and Angela. Can’t think why they picked me but I suspect it was to divert any criticism or complaint away from themselves in case anything went awry, I was their (willing) sacrificial lamb or scapegoat I think. It didn’t matter anyway because the mood of the attendees was cheery, beery, happy and leery as is the case at most folk music events and I was not made aware of any complaints during the whole of the evening. There was a plethora of talents on display too. All the time served musicians, singers, poets, jig doll dancers were there in their numbers and all eager to honour the occasion with a performance. First up was Tony & Angela with Tony’s son David providing guitar accompaniment to Tony’s ukulele and Angela’s shakers. They soon had the room singing along with their rendition of “3 Little Birds” and that set the tenor of the night pretty well. John Langford aka The Fish, described as the King Folker, of the West Country scene (which description was rather hastily amended to Folker King) was on next and recited his latest poem before singing his own composition “Please Mr. St. Christopher” aided and abetted by myself and Adrian O’Reilly on guitars and harmony. Fish #01We managed this in the key of ‘E’ but some time later John informed me he’d now remembered it was supposed to be sung in ‘G’ ! Thorn & Roses followed on and as usual gave a beautiful flavour to the evening’s festivities with their distinctive style and harmonies. I can’t remember the running order precisely because there was very little precision about it as some people arrived later than others and I had to juggle things to keep the light and shade, the flavours and the contrasts flowing smoothly (so I thought anyway!) I can tell you that, in no particular order, Kay Tanner sang “Can’t Help Loving That Man Of Mine” with style and panache. Tony Shaw overcame his recent hand surgery’s debilitation and sang as well as he ever did, even if he did feel his guitar playing wasn’t up to his own benchmark, no one else uttered complaint. I can state without exaggeration that Keith Marshall’s percussive skills awed the assembled audience and absolutely astonished me as he partnered the guitar genius of Pete Berryman. Di, stalwart of Dreamers Folk at Fourlanes (never say Di – she told me) sang us a fine song, Mike Smith brought us all into a rousing chorus with his version “Follow The Plough”. There was a break for a pasty supper and a chance for folk to catch up on news (and gossip no doubt) then an assembly of dancing dolls, all hand made by Tony Franklin were lined up to dance with music from Mike Smith and Mike O’Connor. This was to have been a photo opportunity too; it was hoped we could get one photo that would include all the dancing dolls and their owners but space prevented this and for this failure I do offer sincere apologies to both Tony and Angela: it was just impossible on this occasion. The second half was opened with a song from Robbie and Maureen Tatlow then Adrian O’Reilly and I were well received as we performed my own composition “Over There”. Nigel Morson gave us an hilarious Les Barker monologue and performed this with beautifully impeccable timing too. Mike Kessell brought us back to that well known and loved traditional resource with an old Scottish song, his son Toby had the place open mouthed in sheer admiration and maybe sheer disbelief as he skilfully manoeuvred his fingers around his accordion keys and had the place in an uproar of accord and appreciation (accordion to my mind anyway!) Pete Hunt sang a lovely Tony Deane song in memory of his late friend, Pete Reynolds reminded us how we all “Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside”, Jon Heslop had us all in voice, Mike O’Connor with his concertina sang two beautiful songs, David Franklin played some of his own compositions accompanied by none other than Keith Marshall and I reckon there might be a future meet for those two somehow. Then the lads from Rum and Shrub lined the bar so the folk who’d been stuck in the middle of the room could hear some music up close and they did their own inimitable thing in beautiful harmonic close order singing before Tony Franklin took the stage for the final phase to sing his own “Walking Round Cornwall” with the whole pub, even some of the bar staff, joining in with the chorus and Mike O’Connor adding to the proceedings with fiddle accompaniment. After this Roger Bryant – song-smith extraordinaire – led off with his own “Cornish Lads” and then, after Tony had thanked all and sundry, the evening then slowly descended into a general sing-a-round. It was a beautiful night, a rare event, a hark back to the days when pubs were the hubs for communities, news, assistance fun and socialising and I feel I can confidently state without fear of contradiction that it was thoroughly enjoyed by all who came and also all those who just happened to be using their local on that particular night (like my old bass playing band mate from “Big Dick & The Deviants”, David George.)

All that in the course of one week!


The Market Inn Incident.

(As remembered some 40 odd years later)

I got to know Mick Bennett through my friendship with Clive Palmer and John Bidwell of C.O.B. of which he was also a member and also through his various visits to the Folk Cottage in Truro and Pipers Folk Club in Penzance both of which I was Resident Singer at.


Somewhere, somehow, I loaned him some money, we’re not sure now how much, either a pound or a fiver, but most likely a fiver. This was 1972/3 so not an insignificant sum given also that I was unemployed at the time. I can’t remember how long the debt lasted but one cold winter’s night we both had met up and were drinking in The Market Inn, Truro.

Mick Bennett

We’d had a few and were chatting, getting along quite nicely until when it  came to Mick’s turn to buy another round I noticed he had a bulging wallet and was obviously ‘in funds’. As I was relatively brassic as usual I suggested this might be a good time for him to settle his debt to me. In my recollection some detailed discussion followed about how I was in desperate need of money and Mick was of the opinion that he might not have enough to settle the debt and pay his way until a further lot of funds came to him. I was quite insistent that debts, and in particular this one, ought to be settled expediently. Mick pondered on this a moment or two then came to some decision. He pulled out and held up a bank note.

“See this,” he said “this is the debt that lies between us.” He then took out a match from the pile in the frog of the brick ashtray on the bar and scraped it along the brick until it lit. Staring straight into my eyes he touched the flame to the bank note. It lit up quickly creating quite a bit of smoke as it burned and turned into ash which Mick then tossed onto the floor.  A stray fragment settled onto the piled matches and these too went up in a sudden and sustained burst of flame and smoke. This additional conflagration seemed somehow significant to Mick, a sort of positive sign that the burned note and the matches all combined to create a harmonic whole.

“There,” he said, “the debt is gone. It is no more.”


I was astonished at this action. I was certainly not in agreement with Mick that the debt had been eliminated. In my firm opinion the banknote had gone, but not the debt. I told Mick this and he seemed quite unimpressed. I elaborated on my theme, Mick offered his thoughts on my statements but clung to the position that in being burned out of existence his debt to me was now fully discharged.

So, inevitably, our voices got louder, there must have been some cursing from me too, and maybe it was this element that caught the attention of the landlady who then also became aware of the large cloud of smoke still hanging in the air where Mick and I still stood in heated disagreement.

She was one of the no nonsense type of landladies and she marched up to us.

“Now then,” she asked sternly, “what’s all the noise about?” Then she sniffed as she eyed the burnt matches and the blue cloud hovering over the bar. “And who’s been burning things up here?” Mick owned up immediately and we were ordered to finish our drinks and get out of the pub. We did this and lurched unsteadily along the pavement behind the City Hall in the direction of the next available pub still in heated debate about the money owed. My temper got the better of me in the end and I grabbed Mick by the lapels of his coat and banged him up against the big wooden rear doors several times physically emphasising that I wanted my money repaid in coin of the realm with each thrust into them. In retrospect I suppose it might also have been the fact that the decision had been taken for me by Mick and his unwavering implacable refusal to shift his point of view that got my blood up. Things certainly were not helped by Mick guffawing his very distinct and loud laugh as we swayed back and forth and he met the wooden doors each time with a thump. During a lull in the proceedings Mick looked at me and said.

“Look if you’re going to hit me, then hit me.”

I knew I couldn’t hit him; I liked him too much so I let go. Mick straightened his clothes, pulled out some notes from his pocket and gave me my money. It was past closing time by now which was probably fortunate.

“What are you going to do now?” I asked him.

“Don’t know,” he replied, “I’ve nowhere to stay tonight.”

“Don’t be daft,” I told him, “you can come back to my place.” I was renting a cottage near Trispen with my then girlfriend Joy. Mick stayed with us more than a few days and on one of those we drove out to visit Ralph McTell at London Apprentice but didn’t quite make it having first detoured to Barney Potter’s place –

but that’s another story.


Clive Palmer – New CD Release 2015

Clive - Live Front0002

A brand new CD release is now available.

Clive - Live Billy C.jpg


Some Reviews:

Grahame Hood. Author of, Empty Pocket Blues: The Life and Music of Clive Palmer. Produced by Mic McCreadie with material taken from recordings made informally at Pipers Folk Club by Denis Clixby, a regular attendee, who recorded pretty well every performance in all its different locations over the years. I am listening to the CD as I type this, and it is very enjoyable. It consists of 20 tracks which date from between 1975 and 1985. The CD has sleeve notes from Billy Connolly, Mike Heron, Ralph McTell, John Bidwell and Mick Bennett. I have never heard any of the recordings before but have heard some of the tracks in other versions. The CD is very good indeed.

Billy Connolly. Comedian, Musician & Composer. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. These songs and tunes have become the background music to my life, I feel sure they will become as important, and comfortable, to you.

Malcolm Pinch. Musician & Composer. Thanks for a fantastic concert last night! Enjoying the  “Clive – Live” CD this morning.

Colin Smith. Musician & Composer.  I really enjoyed the CD too – well done Mic for all the research and skill in getting a good sound from Denis’s old reel to reel tapes.

Stephen Hunt. Writer, Musician & Composer. Listening to the “Clive – Live” CD this morning. Absolutely wonderful. Thank you.

Tony Corden. Musician & Composer.  Absolutely love the CD. Been playing it non stop. A truly fascinating document.

Ben Kingsbury. Former Radio presenter who broadcast a Clive Palmer ‘special’ on BBC Radio Cambridge in 2014. I am pleased to say that the CD was waiting for me when I got in! It looks fantastic and I look forward to listening to it later today. What a fantastic thing, I am so glad that it exists. You have done such a fantastic job.

  Colin Bodiam. Brilliant, atmospheric – and energetic – recordings given the circumstances, a nice listen!

John Bidwell. (Ex-Stockroom Five, C.O.B.)  Clive’s version of “The Cuckoo” is really interesting. I had an LP of Kodaly’s “Hary Janos Suite” and “Dances of Galanta”, which was so hauntingly beautiful, that between us we played it almost to extinction, through one summer at the Sawmills. I remember him having the idea of singing “Cuckoo” to the tune of a melody in the “Peacock Variations” from that record. It works beautifully doesn’t it? I’ve never been able to find a copy of the specific record, which was vastly superior to any others I have heard. If anyone knows of a copy of Kodaly’s “Hary Janos Suite” and “Dances of Galanta”, played by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Georg Solti, I’m interested! But, once again, what a sublime fusion Clive dreamed up there!



A Brief History Of The “Clive – Live” CD.

Denis Clixby, a St. Ives hotelier and avid Folk Music enthusiast, was a regular attendee at Pipers Folk Club from its glory days with Brenda Wootton and John the Fish in Penzance through its many and varied locations until its dying days. Denis recorded each and every club session he attended, and in doing so documented all the performances that took place, including visiting Guest Artistes, (the lists of ‘names’ is staggering!) itinerant singers, and the Club’s Resident Singers. Thus it was that a comprehensive recordings archive was brought into being. Sadly Denis died in 1999 and I, eventually, took on the stewardship of the Denis Clixby Recordings Archive. I quickly realised that it was a veritable treasure trove! When I discovered the amount of material Denis had collected featuring Incredible String Band founder member Clive Palmer, with whom I’d shared a friendship since 1972, I at once began a salvage on this aspect of the Archive and took the salvaged material to Clive who was delighted to hear it, remarking how ‘strong’ his performances were and that he’d love to have it made into an album release. Sadly Clive passed away before this could become a reality but, with the unstinting and invaluable assistance of Ralph McTell, I’m very pleased to say that Clive’s wishes have been brought to life in the production of this audio CD.

Clive had sent his old pal Ralph a copy of the rough master disc I’d produced and Ralph had me provide him with a copy for his pal Billy Connolly. Billy was also very impressed and so the plan was for Ralph to get the CD into production but, with his professional commitments and work load, it was soon clear the CD would never be ready to be launched at the Clive Palmer Memorial Concert I was to stage on November 29th 2015 so I took on the whole project, seeing to all aspects of its publication i.e. re-mastering, financing, art work, etc. Billy Connolly, Ralph McTell, Mike Heron, John Bidwell, and Mick Bennett all contributed sleeve notes. It’s a professionally replicated and packaged, numbered, limited release (500 copies only) Copies of the CD can be purchased by post from me here for £12.00 G.B.P. each inclusive of P&P by 1st class mail.

To Order:

Email enquiries to: mic.4752@talktalk.net

Please make cheques payable to:

Mic McCreadie at

86 Trehane Road,



TR14 7NU.

Alternatively money can be transferred by online banking via:

Sort Code: 11.01.32.

Account Number: 10532269.

Account Name: M. McCreadie.

Thank you,

Mic McCreadie.

December 21st 2015.


The Clive Palmer Memorial Concert

Clive from Tim W

I first met with Clive Palmer in the late summer of 1972 at The Cambridge Folk Festival, through my new friendship with John Bidwell. John was then a member of C.O.B. with Clive and Mick Bennett. Although I was very acutely aware of Clive’s legendary musical pedigree, as a founder member of the Incredible String Band, it seemed the only one affected by it was me; Clive certainly wasn’t bothered by it. His natural charm and unaffected friendliness very soon dispelled my gawky awkwardness at being in the company of such an important musician.

Our friendship developed over the years and though there were times when we’d not see each other for several years it made no real difference; when we met up again we just picked up from where we’d left off.

Mic & Clive 1977
Mic & Clive 1977

When he finally settled in Cornwall we spent several happy years frequenting each others houses and attending folk clubs especially Pipers Folk Club in Penzance. When Clive and Shirley moved to Camborne it was me who drove the van that carried their belongings to the new house.

When Clive returned to Cornwall from his long exile in France with his new partner Gina it wasn’t long before we were back in touch. I’d taken on the stewardship of the Denis Clixby Recordings Archive in 2012 and while working my way

Denis Clixby
Denis Clixby

through the various tapes and cassettes I’d found quite a lot of material featuring Clive both solo and with others.

I cleaned and digitised this very old audio, recorded between 1975 and 1985 as far as I could ascertain, and brought it to Clive who was delighted to hear it, remarked on how ‘strong’ his performances were and that he’d love to have it made into an album release. This began a series of re-mastering and cleaning sessions and all three of us, Clive Gina and myself deciding which songs would make up the solo album. Sadly Clive passed away before this could become a reality but, with the unstinting and invaluable assistance of Ralph McTell, I continued the project. It seemed a natural extension of this to also organise a Memorial Concert for Clive so this too was put in train.

Lowenac BestThe dual projects came to fruition on Sunday 29th November 2015 in the large Functions Room of the Lowenac Hotel in Camborne. This was not the original venue selected for the Concert, but a mutual misunderstanding between myself and the management of Bramwell’s Mill in Penzance meant I urgently needed to find a new location. Hotel Manager Martin, his lovely wife Mirella and the catering staff gave us every assistance and support. So it was that an amazing array of talented musicians gathered to pay respect and make tribute to Clive Palmer and his music. Every musician I approached without hesitation agreed to perform and in no time at all I had a full stable of willing performers. I was also greatly assisted by what became known as: “The S-Team” consisting of my dear wife Chrissie, my beautiful daughter Emma and her husband Wayne, my niece Debbie and her partner Marty, and my old pal Keith Gauntlett. At 16.00 on the day we assembled and began to set up the Functions Room for the Concert. While I set up a Sound Stage and Marty set up a four camera video shoot, Keith arranged the tables and chairs and Emma took up station at the entrance to collect the voluntary donations. Meanwhile Chrissie in charge of the raffle armed with her book of tickets set out the prizes on a table and Debbie, in charge of the Merchandise table, laid out the advertising and the newly arrived copies of the “Clive – Live” CD.

Biq #02

Our M.C. for the night was the venerable John The Fish, whose history in the folk community of the South West stems from its very inception, so there could be no one better to host our Concert. The evening began with Clive’s personal bagpipe tutor, Bill Buchanan, in the foyer playing a some slow airs that he and Clive had worked on, as the guests began to arrive. The Functions Room was soon filling up with eager folk all keen to be a part of this tribute to Clive and his many achievements. The Concert itself began at 19.00 sharp with my two friends, Adrian O’Reilly, Dick Reynolds and I as Bisquitry though our set and the some of the following one were somewhat marred by a sound stage problem. This occurred because, just as I was getting set up for Bisquitry I had a very heated call from a very irate gentleman whom I’d arranged transport for, to and from Penzance, to say he was stranded and what was I going to do about it? The signal was intermittent and eventually we got cut off. Then, as I was being called for, I had to dash onto the stage to begin our set of songs. Sadly in the confusion, I’d neglected to turn up the mixer channels for Adrian and Dick with the result that their contributions could not be heard clearly, though I was fine of course! We started with Allan Taylor’s ‘It’s Good To See You’ but our song was interrupted and our sound problem was not helped by my ‘phone going off again as someone else tried to get in touch with me! I frantically switched the ‘phone off and concentrated on performing with the lads. I got our sound problem sorted with some assistance and we finished our set with a song we’d all performed with Clive at one time or another: ‘Jordan Is A Hard Road’.

Fish #01
John The Fish

Then John The Fish, introduced Tony Corden and Friends. Tony took the stage with Grahame Hood and the second round of sound problems began. I must thank the visiting sound engineer who came over to help me track and remove the low bass howl-round or feedback we were having on one particular microphone.


Grahame Hood: We played two of Clive’s songs; ‘In The Deepness Of A Summer Night’ , ruined by bad sound, though at least the feedback was in the right key, and ‘Evening Air’, with which I personally was delighted. Tony then swapped guitar for whistle to back Bob Devereux on a lovely ‘Suns & Moons’. Stonebreath’s Prydwn, now living in Wales, brought his harp to the party and played C.O.Bs ‘Sweet Slavery’ apologising in advance to Mick Bennett for any liberties taken. None were; he was excellent. 

Tony C & G H
Tony Corden & Grahame Hood
Tony C & Bob D
Tony Corden & Bob Devereaux
Sylvan aka Prydwn.













Once the sound problem was sorted however the rest of the night was relatively trouble free – sound wise.

Pete Berryman, legendary guitarist and former collaborator with Clive in the Famous Jug Band was next and his clever fingers wove a melodic line through many of Clive’s compositions in his own inimitable way before John The Fish introduced Noel & Pam Betowski aka D’jazz Celtica. Playing guitar/bouzouki and fiddle they elected to play without the benefit(?) of the sound system (and its equipment limitations) and set themselves up on the floor.

Pete B #01
Pete Berryman.

They were absolutely stunning and to the audience’s surprise and evident delight gave us a heady mixture of Hot Jazz and Traditional Irish, the melodies flavoured with choice sprinkling of modern pop classics which earned them the evening’s first encore.

Then we came to my ‘surprise’ guest. Clive’s long time friend and producer of both C.O.B. L.P.s – Ralph McTell. Ralph played a three song set of mostly newer material, some of it dealing with stories of his early days in music, busking around Europe and hearing Robert Johnson’s music for the first time. He would have come off after the third song but as he attempted to do so this sparked another encore such was the rapturous response of the mesmerised and appreciative audience. Grahame Hood: I have to say you could not help but admire his musicianship and complete command of the audience. So we had four from Ralph who, with his charming and  lovely wife Nanna, sadly had to leave before the end as they’d long distance travelling to do early next day.

Ralph #03
Ralph McTell.

We had a ten minute interval so folk could mingle and chat during which Ralph generously donated a signed 4 CD Box Set of ‘The Journey’ for the raffle. Not to be left out Jonathon Coudrille then also kindly donated a book of his poems. Thus our three prize raffle draw soon became a five prize raffle draw! The first prize being one of Clive’s own walking sticks; an antique item with a carved lion as a handle, donated by his widow, Gina, who unfortunately did not feel able to attend in person. With Ralph’s Box CD Set, Jonathon Coudrille’s poetry book, two copies of cartoon type drawings Clive had made to illustrate a book of poems written by Mick Bennett, signed and donated by Mick, and an Incredible String Band CD of their first album kindly donated by Mike Heron and Corrina who had also wished to attend but sadly could not, it was a rather grand affair.

Mike S & Jo P #01
L: Jo Partridge. R: Mike Silver.


First up in the second half was Mike Silver, an exceptional singer/songwriter now residing in Cornwall and freshly returned from a tour in Europe. Backed by on lead guitar by Jo Partridge (and if you don’t know who he is, Google him, you’ll be amazed!), Mike is an accomplished and very good entertainer who also quickly displayed his command of an audience gained over a lifetime of performing and touring. There was even a song about mike’s wife’s gardening abilities and their set was received with rapturous applause from a highly pleased audience.

Next were The Pyschamores; Mick Bennett and Pete Berryman with newly added member Steve Hunt, late of the highly rated Cornish duo Corncrow.

Psychamores #01
The Psychamores.

The trio’s name, was coined by Mick because both Mick and Pete now live in flats in the same block; The Sycamores. They did three original songs and many in the room were knocked out by Mick’s remarkable voice, he also performed a poem in honour of Clive’s famous (and obviously much envied) blue corduroy trousers and a haiku sent all the way from Thailand by John Bidwell, complete with explicit instructions on how to perform it! Praising Clive’s organic take on music it ran:

 Heady summer skies

Clive’s songs growing from the ground

Cornwall somehow changed

JXCJonathon Coudrille was as sensational as ever! A gentleman and artist who has been very involved in the early days of the Cornish folk scene, he once greatly impressed Shirley Collins by picking her up from Penzance Rail Station in his Rolls-Royce and driving her to her gig at The St. Ives Festival. With an air of eccentricity about him, dressing like a successful Wild West gambler and wearing a monocle, he sang a song in Russian, read two poems, and reverted to his true Cornish voice with ‘Let’s Go Down Lizard Town’ played on a 7-string banjo and accompanied by mandolin player Ashley, whose 70s style attire was making a statement of its own. In my humble opinion there is no doubt whatsoever that Mr Coudrille is a star.

Last, but certainly not least, was Tim Wellard,

Tim W #01
Tim Wellard.

a man whose role in the life and music of Clive Palmer is often under-rated. Joined by John Bickersteth whose own musical history is legend in the far South West (Zambula, Charlie Cool,) on melodica and Bob Morley the bassist from Clive’s last band, they played a four song set, two of Tim’s own songs with him on guitar and vocals and then, moving to banjo and doing an excellent take of the classic Palmer style, Clive’s ‘Big City Blues’ and the Stockroom Five’s ‘When The Train Comes Along’.

All in all it was a great evening, and more than one person has asked me if the Concert might become an annual event.

I suppose it just might at that.


Mic McCreadie.

A Pictorial Report On The Folk Cottage at Mitchell Reunion Event

It’s funny how sometimes one thing just leads to another thing and then before you know it they’ve all sort of connected and taken on a life of their own, even from the smallest of events. For instance, I was running a series of acoustic music sessions in a local pub during the winter months from 2000 until 2004 and some of these were attended by a chap called Alden Evans. He’s a superb musician and was a member of The Wire Daisies in those days. We sort of clicked and I began to see him from time to time. Fast forward now to a few years later, Alden is now free lance and looking to form a group so he and his mate Joe Francis came along to one of my pub gigs and we all sat chatting after this. Alden suggested we form a band but with my previous experiences in groups, the tensions and such that are produced therein, I was wary so I agreed in the first place to just come to his local pub and sit in session with him to see what might emerge. Still with me? OK.

It was at one of these sessions that I first met Mark Burke, another fine musician and friend of Alden’s. These sessions grew into a wonderful series of nights of just playing great music with skilled musicians and everyone enjoyed them until they petered out due to things moving on for the players. Alden and Mark were now in a band called The Flamin’ Infidels, with Matt Exelby, Stephen Jackson and Joe Francis and they were a brilliantly exciting and talented group which I went to see and enjoy as often as my work would allow me. So over time I became friends with Mark and his lovely partner Mandy. Mark and Mandy had frequented the Swan Folk Club in Truro where I’d been a resident performer along with John The Fish and others, and now, through their son’s schooling, they’d become friends with Lucy & Bob Brightley who as luck would have it were now living in what had once been the Folk Cottage at Mitchell. This venue, just a big old barn at the time, had been one of the first folk clubs in Cornwall and it was here that a young Ralph McTell, Wizz Jones, Pete Stanley, Clive Palmer, Pete Berryman, all gathered at one time or another to play their music. Mark knew that I was a friend of John The Fish and after he and Lucy & Robert had been chatting about the history of the cottage Lucy wondered if we might like to come and revisit the old place. This was now a beautifully converted cottage with fairly extensive grounds. Mark duly got in touch with me and I mentioned it to Fish who said he’d be delighted to go back and reminisce for a while. So this is how my wife Chrissie and I, Mark and Mandy, John The Fish and his wife Carrie all ended up sitting on a comfy sofa in the Brightley’s front room eating cake and sipping coffee and chatting about the old days at the Folk Cottage, Mitchell.

Cake, as you will discover in this missive, came to be a major consideration and featured ubiquitously in all of our future discussions.

I took a camcorder with me to record events and it was such a pleasure to witness the joy and wonderment on dear John’s face as he wandered the grounds recalling all sorts of great memories. He explained to us where the original door had been, where the coffee bar, run initially by ‘Whispering’ Mick Bennett – more of whom later – had been situated, the outside wooden, that’s right wooden, fire escape had been. He showed us the rear stage wall, now in a bedroom, where a large painting in silhouette of a bare breasted woman, the so-called  ‘Naked Lady’ had been. The painting was now regretfully covered over with layers of emulsion. John pointed out the well near the front gate, now safely covered in, that had once been a repository for all manner of unwanted and possibly undesirable things not least the huge number of empty liquor bottles brought in by the audience as the club was ‘dry’. It was a lovely day and the Brightleys were so welcoming and generous it felt like we’d all been friends for ever!

This genuine kindness and friendliness was what led me to request that Robert and Lucy consider allowing me to bring Ralph McTell to their home in order to film and interview him for my film project to document the history of the Folk Cottage at Mitchell and the famed Pipers Folk Club at Bottallack from their beginnings.

They agreed to this without a moment’s hesitation and that was how Ralph McTell, Robert and Lucy, Chrissie and I came to be sitting on a comfy sofa in the Brightley’s front room eating cake and sipping coffee while I was filming my interview with Ralph!

Meanwhile the ever effervescent Lucy had begun to have imaginative and creative thoughts and that was how some time later over a beautiful Sunday lunch Lucy asked me if I thought it might be a good idea to try to organise a Folk Cottage at Mitchell Reunion. We could invite all the people who’d been a part of the whole whether as performers or audience. Some of the early musicians of course had gone on to achieve International fame. I thought it was grand idea so we put our heads together and that was how Chrissie and I came to be sitting on a comfy sofa in the Brightley’s front room eating cake and sipping coffee while we discussed how to go about making this idea into a reality. Initially we thought we’d have to limit the guest list to only those who’d been involved at Mitchell but this, by necessity, changed as you’ll see further down this article. Over the course of several months, emails were sent out, ‘phone calls were made, and furtive canvassing was done to test the waters; it all had to be shrouded in secrecy for fear of the Garden Party Event being overrun by avid fans etc. Further, cake related (with cheese on one occasion!) meetings took place and at one of these Robert and Lucy had exciting news regarding the loan of a huge marquee to house the Sound Stage and be a shelter from inclement weather for the audience too. This would be invaluable of course in what seemed to be the wettest ever summer in memory. The work went on apace though during a visit to John The Fish and his dear wife, the ever lovely Carrie it began to become evident that I could do with some help so both John & Carrie volunteered to assist and were eagerly recruited to the Folk Cottage at Mitchell Reunion Team. This was a very good move because I hadn’t as complete a list of qualifying invitees as John & Carrie did and so with their help the guest list was broadened to include people who’d been a part of the Club when it was held at other venues such as Rose, near Perranporth and Truro where the club had moved to as time progressed.

SoundcheckingIt all came to fruition on the afternoon of Monday 31st August 2015. Around mid morning, inside  a huge marquee erected in the garden, I brought in my Stage Gear and with help from my good friend Adrian O’Reilly we set up a comprehensive Sound Stage, with a live recording facility. I also brought in my trusty Film Camera Manager, Marty Fitzpatrick, who’d filmed some other events with me, and he set up for a multi camera shoot. The earlier rain had stopped, then, as though bestowing goodwill on the venture, the sky cleared and the sun came out to shine down upon the beautiful surroundings and things slowly gathered pace.

The Stewards and Car Parking Teams, Keith Gauntlett, Emma McCreadie-Thompson and her husband Wayne, arrived to bring order to the vehicular proceedings. Invited guests began arriving, some of whom had travelled great distances just to be there to witness this historical musical event and what a delight the whole thing was!

Robert & Lucy had set up a huge refectory table absolutely crammed with home baked cakes and assorted goodies with an unambiguous sign reading: ‘Help Yourself!’ Two large bowls of apples hand picked from their orchard flanked the entry to the massive marquee. John the Fish and Carrie also brought their cake with the top bearing a copy in icing of the famous ‘Naked Lady’ a painting in silhouette which had adorned the rear of the Stage back when the Club first started. Sadly, as John tried to lay his iconic creation upon the cake the icing stretched, so the Naked Lady got a little taller and a little thinner and looked somewhat misshapen but that, on a day like this, was a minor detail.

We had music from a huge array of past performers who’d all played at the club at one time or another and also from those who’d been in right from the start. Musicians like John Sleep, John The Fish, Ralph McTell, Wizz Jones, Pete Berryman, Mick Bennett, Jonathon Xavier Coudrille, John Wood, Dave Deighton, The Four Fifths Jug Band (especially reformed for the occasion), Jake Walton, Joe and Diane Partridge, and others who had come along after the club had moved from Mitchell, like Thorn & Roses, myself, Adrian O’Reilly and Dick Reynolds (as BisquitrJohn Sleep & John the Fishy), and Stephen Hunt.

Co-hosted by John Sleep and John The Fish, it was off to a flying start with an introduction and a poem from John The Fish, who’d interrupted his lunch to get things moving on time. This was followed by a simply wonderful set, crammed with superb musicianship and deft humour, from Jonathon Xavier Coudrille who also had been wrenched from his no doubt tasty and healthy lunch due to an unforeseen stage equipment glitch. Jonathon’s amazing impromptu performance set the bar high and created a standard the others all bravely played up to. As the equipment glitch was still ongoing Sylvia Fletcher, Rowena Metters and Jinks Jenkins a.k.a. Thorn & Roses stepped in at short notice and gave us a beautifully harmonic set, as they invariably do, including a funny song about somebody called Willie! John The Fish then introduced John Sleep one of the Folk Cottage’s founder members and he gave a short history of its inception. With the equipment glitch finally cured, we had a set from Dave Deighton accompanied by his wife Josie, playing some fancy blues and ending with a rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘Girl From The North Country’.

Next we heard from John Woods who’d cut his teeth in the original cottage. Now living in Oslo it was sheer chance that he was in the country just as the event was happening. John entertained us with a couple of songs and also brought some very old photos of the folk cottage and its people from the early days. I hope to have a few of thAlan 'Jug' Jewellese in the film that is planned of tJohn Woodhis day’s doings.

Then it was a turn from Terry Broad, Alan Jewell and Kippy, a.k.a. The Four Fifths Jug Band and they soon had feet tapping as they filled the tent with their infectious music.

One of the regulars from the early Folk Cottage days was Jake Walton and he, with Joe Partridge playing guitar accompaniment, brought  us back to earth with some songs of aJakeWalton sweet and sensitive nature and this was very well received by all. Joe stayed on stage to
accompany his sister Diane and when they had played Joe Partridge & Jake Waltontheir set there was a ten minute interval so folk could mingle and have a good old chinwag and chat without affecting any musical performances.

During this short break I was approached by John Sleep who told me he’d been wondering who was paying for all the equipment etc., and I was able to tell him it was mostly free; we’d all made our contributions in terms of equipment and time etc., for the good of the Reunion. However John, clearly impressed with what had been achieved, insisted on making a donation. I wasn’t sure how to handle this and tried to dissuade him but John would not hear of a refusal so I sought advice from John & Carrie who suggested I ask Robert and Lucy and when I did they were of one mind; ‘Put it towards next year’s Reunion!’ they said. I must admit, given the huge success we were witnessing, I’d had a sneaking suspicion this might well be their reaction.

It was suggested then that an announcement could be made from the stage inviting those who wished it, to make a donation but to stress that this was entirely voluntary. I duly made the announcement and a bucket was produced to contain the monies received. It did very well and we now had the beginnings of next year’s event!

Mic McCreadie

Then the breakBisquitry was over and the stage was given over to Mic McCreadie, Adrian O’Reilly, and Dick Reynolds a.k.a. ‘Bisquitry’ who started off the second half of the concert, for that’s what it had become, with an eclectic set of songs.

Folk Festival Fan and aficionado, Stephen Hunt Stephen Huntwas on next and sang some Gospel flavoured songs encouraging the audience to join in with him in rousing choruses which they did with relish!Mick Bennett

A true legend Pete Berryman & Mick Bennett of British folk history then took to the stage in the form of Pete Berryman who played two of his own compositions before inviting yet another legend of the Folk Cottage, Mick Bennett, to come and join him. The next two songs were superlative and though I suppose the last one might be described as slightly scurrilous, it was nevertheless immensely funny and had the listeners Pete Berrymanlaughing with its lyrical content and curiously creative rhymes!

This brought us neatly to the highlight of the event; an appearance by Ralph McTell who gave us two wonderful songs: ‘Hesitation Blues’ and ‘The Girl From The Hiring Fair’ then he left the stage after inviting Wizz Jones to come up and take his rightfuRalph McTelll place before the by now ecstatic crowd. Wizz also did two songs in his highly inimitable style then brought Ralph back on to join him in finishing the proceedings with two more brilliant songsRalph & Wizz: Woody Guthrie’s ‘Deportees’ and the foot-stomping ‘ I Ain’t Got No Honey Baby Now’.

It was a stunning musical climax to such a wonderful and beautiful afternoon. Robert & Lucy Brightley were presented with a bunch of flowers very soon after Lucy had been serenaded by Jonathon Xavier Coudrille, he on one knee Ralph & Wizz 2earnestly and passionately playing up into her stunned but delighted face!

So, all in all, it was an amazing afternoon and it’s really pleasing to think that it’ll all happen again next year too!

All things being equal etc.
Mic McCreadie.


A Reply to Geoff’s Question Regarding Events On My Birthday.

Hi Geoff,

Who cares, really, about birthdays in the grand scheme of things and especially when one is moving along on the relentless conveyor belt walkway, (shuffle way?), to older age? Not me for sure.

I was 68 this time which of course means I’m in my 69th year and it’s OK but that’s mostly because there’s nothing at all I can do about it; it’s gonna happen whatever.

You asked me: ‘How did your big day go? Mine was dreary.’

Well, my day was certainly less dreary than yours due to the excitement that inevitably, though accidentally, followed a mishap during my routine of domestic cleaning on Saturdays.

Let me explain.

I was in the shower some day in the week before my birthday and had noticed that the bath was not draining as it ought to; there was a growing delay with the water’s egress and therefore a puddling pool at the plughole. (Good title for an album dear?) I suspected hair balls at a flexure and used my rubber plunger (steady now!) to force the water under pressure down the outlet pipe so to dislodge whatever was obstructing the flow. I later saw that this had made little difference to matters and was beginning to consider getting some branded drain cleaner solution.

Then, out of the blue, the shower gave up the ghost so, as the house maintenance man, I was employed in finding a suitable replacement at a reasonable cost. I made enquiries of mates, friendly plumbers and electricians, one of whom got me a trade price quote for a shower unit. This was approximately £120.00 and he wanted nothing for getting me one at that price. My mate Alan the plumber said he’d gladly fit any replacement I bought for £150.00 – £180 (this variable figure to accommodate any problems he might encounter in the way of piping etc. so the guts of £300.00 for a new shower up and running.

You know me. I abhor wasting money, it’s in my blood and bones I believe.

I surfed the net and found a very similar, if a little bulkier, unit at £52.50, free delivery etc. it did seem to tick all the boxes regarding no disruption to my beautifully self tiled bathroom wall in fact it would probably cover the site of the previous one with a little extra to take out blemishes and previous ‘repairs and touch ups’ from previous replacement units. All good.

I therefore ordered a new shower unit at £52.50 and in the waiting time we made do with a bath taps hose attachment which, in my case, was a fecken nuisance but needs must etc.

The unit duly arrived and I ran around getting the bits that I needed and that were not a part of the delivered package, i.e. 15mm compression fittings and large plumber’s spanners. I also felt some deep dismay when I saw the electrical cable entry was on the opposite side to the old one. Never mind: I persevered and in true R.A.F. trained engineer tradition I soon (after some serious struggles mind) had the bastard on the wall with suitably heated water coming through on demand.

When the dear wife used it first she mentioned, not having experience of manly fixing of things, that the bath was not draining as it ought to; there was a growing delay with the water’s egress and therefore a puddling pool at the plughole. Had this anything to do with me and my recent plumbing related engineering? No, I told her, it’s probably obstructed by hair which gathers and adheres to itself and other greases and gunk then gets stuck at a bend or somesuch. My wife has beautifully kept, long blonde hair, which I find in all areas when on my cleaning rounds. I will admit that I also find some of my silvered patrician type hairs along with hers but mine is shorter so it’s helplessly and innocently trapped by the longer, fairer, strands. Not my fault!

On the Saturday of my birthday Chrissie went to shop in town and I began a round of my cleaning chores and had just cleaned the bathroom sink, bowl, tiles and the bath shower facility when I saw, on the rinsing element of my chore, that the bath was not draining as it ought to; there was a growing delay with the water’s egress and therefore a puddling pool at the plughole. Ah! I’d forgotten about this, distracted by some important man work stuff no doubt. I also then remembered I could take out the screw bolt in the centre of the chrome drain fitting and this would give me access to the outlet pipe in a much better way. I’d be able to look into the S-bend and push a bottle brush in to dislodge debris and maybe even pull some back out. I had a suitable screwdriver in my fist and before you could say, ‘Mic, don’t do this. Get a plumber and pay him the call out charge instead’ I undid the bolt and removed the drain cover. It was then that I saw the remnants of some plastic or polythene but certainly perished seal had torn away too. Worse was to come. I then was extremely dismayed to see that the action of removing the drain cover had caused the outlet pipe to fall back and down and come to rest on the floor under the boxed in bath. I considered my options and very quickly realised that the bath and its showering facilities would be of no use to us unless it drained in a proper way i.e. to the outside network. We stood to lose a lot of the kitchen ceiling below if I didn’t somehow get the two items re-connected. I knew instinctively that I needed access to the S-bend if I was ever going to marry the two parts back together.

I wrestled with the bath panel and after a while it was out and on the landing as was the long piece of wood it was fixed to. Now I had much better access to the S-bend and was able, after a struggle, to reconnect them. This I accomplished with a happy heart.

I tested the joint and it leaked. It leaked very well I must say. It was as though it had been waiting to show me how well it could leak. I had the presence of mind, and a mild though growing sense of rising panic, to put the bath plug back into the plug hole and this of course stopped the flow. I mopped up under the bath with a fat copy of the weekly local newspaper, The West Briton, and spread the Leisure Section on the floor under the bath drain as a precautionary measure against future bad luck in this now clearly ill-fated venture.

I now stood back and on shaking legs took stock. I saw I’d need to get a replacement seal if I was ever to recover the natural equilibrium and balance of drains and dry floors in our bathroom. Chrissie had returned by now and greeted me in her usual friendly way. I told her about the situation upstairs and she smiled enigmatically, recalling I’ve no doubt the time when I’d ‘fixed’ the leaking tap on the washbasin and ended up with a flood across the bathroom, which made its way very easily down through the floor via the kitchen walls, and a smashed basin (when tools fell on it) which resulted in a, successful, insurance claim that ran into the mid hundreds and brought us a brand new sink complete with taps which I fitted myself! Or perhaps the other time when I’d replaced the shower unit and had, just as I was finishing off, dropped a spanner and caused a crack in the bath of the colour coordinated suite just big enough to cause a leak. This bath was boxed in too but this was easily removed for access and I very soon fashioned a repair with the broken piece and some trusty Araldite Epoxy resin which, after some time curing, worked fine on testing but then leaked when weight, in the form of a person, or a weight of water, was added to the bath and the whole thing flexed. This bit of bad luck was what had caused us to replace the entire colour coordinated bathroom suite last time.

We had lunch and decided that, as nothing could be gained in the bathroom fiasco until I’d found new seals, we should make the best of the rest of my birthday by going to sit by the sea, visit friends and perhaps even have an ice cream to eat in the rare sunshine of this summer. Chrissie drove us to Penzance where I knew there was a branch of B&Q and there, after some browsing I found, bagged and priced at £4.97, a complete S-bend with all the relevant seals I’d need and I bought this. Chrissie was also delighted to find a new lampshade to fit in with her plans and designs on our newly refurbished front room. We set off to sit on the beach at Marazion where we each had an ice cream and relaxed with the cares of the world far behind us. We then did our visiting and eventually made our way home again. It was much too late now to begin wrestling with the bathroom bath and drains so we spent the night in happy harmony watching a film and relaxing, I may have had some wine, it was my birthday after all.

Next day dawned as next days will and after the usual coffee and chatting in bed I got up to do battle with the bath drain. I opened the bagged package and removed the seals I thought I’d need and fitted these onto the new outlet assembly. Might as well get all new bits in there, I thought to myself. However, it was immediately, though very disappointingly, clear that this assembly was bit smaller than the one I’d removed. It was for a sink! Not a bath! I had a brief moment of ferociousness in which I considered taking a sledge hammer to the bath and all the fixtures and fittings just to show them who was in charge but I realised, with the mellow maturity of my advanced years I like to think, that this would be a lot worse then just having to drive to our local branch of B&Q, return the incorrectly purchased items from yesterday, and get one that fitted a bath.

This is what I did and had the good fortune to be directed to Eddie who was a retired plumber now working part time at B&Q. Eddie deftly showed me the items I required, in a see through polythene bag and priced at £8.97. Due to my experiences the previous day I was uncertain if I had the kind and size of seals so asked the kindly, and patient, Eddie if I needed any other seals. He said I had everything I  needed in the bag but then his years of experience must have led him to see the uncertainty in my eyes and he asked me what it was I wanted to do. I explained, in a much shortened version, what had occurred. Eddie told me there was no seal where I’d found, and torn out, the perished one. I insisted there had been and after a few minutes of polite (I knew I desperately wanted his help) debate Eddie decided that the installing plumber, my mate Alan, had most likely put in everything that came with a new bath just as a sort of belt and braces affair.

All I needed, he gently informed me, was a tub of jointing compound, Plumber’s Mait, at (£3.97). IMG_2249This is a sort of flexible non setting putty that I should generously smear round all mating surfaces then refit the pipes and couplings etc., and I’d be fine. Even as I drove home with the tub of jointing compound on the passenger seat, I wasn’t convinced, but I knew the store would be open until 16.00 so I went with it. Once home I did as Eddie had told me and when I tested, tentatively at first, there were no leaks. I tested twice, once with a little water and once again with a lot more.

I noticed on this second test that the bath wasn’t draining as it ought to; there was a growing delay with the water’s egress and therefore a puddling pool at the plughole. Once again I brought my trusty plunger (steady, I told you, steady!) back into play and after a bit of grunting, as workmen and amateur plumbers are apt to do, as if by magic the water disappeared down the recently and most efficiently resealed plug hole – like it should. Further workmanlike and determinedly thrusting plunging (I won’t tell you again!) saw me bring the state of drainage from the bath shower back to their previous levels of efficiency. The furniture and fittings were all replaced and we once again had a properly functioning bathroom.

Plus, I’d saved the cost of a plumber’s call out charge and/or the cost of the drain cleaning solution!

So, yes Geoff, my birthday was a tad less dreary than yours!



Solo Pub Entertainer – First Gig.

Alexandra Inn

Solo Pub Entertainer.


My very first gig as a solo pub entertainer was at The Alexandra Inn at the bottom of Alexandra Road in Penzance. This was probably about 1973/4 or so. I may have been sent there by an agency but I have no real recollection of how the gig came about in the first place. It was a pretty frightening and traumatic affair; I had no P.A. equipment whatsoever, no amplifier or microphone, and on arrival had been directed to a spot in a corner very close to the dartboard where I stood, utilising the dartboard light, with my sturdy if rather quietly toned Eko Ranger 6 acoustic guitar and began to sing my rehearsed repertoire to the noisy drinkers who, since they could probably barely hear me, paid scant attention to my musical offerings. Like a seasoned performer I soldiered on; I was used to some noise from my folk club gigs but as the time wore on and the noise increased exponentially even I was having trouble hearing what I was doing! After around a hour of this I stopped playing. Right in the middle of a song. I pulled my guitar off over my head. No one noticed or, if they did, they didn’t care. I felt my temper rising, it was always just floating beneath the surface calm I displayed to the world at large in those days and never an easy thing to control given my youthful angst and insecurity. Now it was rising and rising fast at this plainly rude behaviour to a struggling and relatively inexperienced performer and I just let go and roared out angrily. ‘Give us a bloody chance here, will you?’


I have been blessed with rather a loud voice and at times of stress there’s an unmistakeable Irish, but sometimes Scottish, accent colouring it. It can sound quite intimidating. The silence following this outburst was almost absolute and now, as I very quickly realised, I was faced with several hard drinking, pretty rugged, fit looking, working men all curious to know who was shouting and making such a noise in their regular drinking hole! Gazing at this by now mean looking and truculent crowd with my heart now in my mouth I realised I might have to change tack a bit if I wanted to get home in one piece so I modified my belligerent tone and continued in a more plaintive reasoning voice.

‘Em … Look lads … I’m doing my best here, will you just have a listen and then if I’m no good you can tell me and I’ll pack it in and just go home. OK?’

Looks were exchanged, heads were nodded; they were decent folk after all, and a silent agreement was reached between us all. To a man they all shut up, well nearly all, some still hadn’t noticed what was going on but they’d been there when I arrived and looked as though they’d been there for all of their adult lives.

The rest faced me expectantly so, now challenged, I strapped my trusty guitar back on and sang my arrangement of Gordon Lightfoot’s song: ‘In The Early Morning Rain’. I gave it all I had, running the riffs up and down where they interacted with the lyric of the song, flat-picking the chords with fine style, and I ‘sang the story’ to them. And they listened. They didn’t make a sound. When I finished there was a heart stopping silence before a single pair of hands began to clap and then some others joined in and then some more and some of them were calling over to me that I was ‘quite good’. I’d like to write that the whole pub was up and standing on their feet cheering and whistling, swamping the room with their loud applause but that would be a fiction, that didn’t happen. There was a fair amount of what I believed was genuine applause and, smiling at them, accepting their genuine plaudits, I thanked those who were applauding, thinking I’d won through when a solitary voice, clear as a bell and easily carried above the now diminishing noise spoke out.

‘Right,’ it said, ‘we’ve given you a go, now you can f*ck off home!’ My heart fell into my boots as I heard this but then that bald unwelcome and negative statement was immediately followed by the room erupting with loud and sustained merriment as the wag was back slapped and congratulated on his scintillating wit. I couldn’t help myself, I laughed along with them and I think it was this that finally won them over to me.

Well that and the landlord shouting above the laughter.

‘Oi, you b*ggers! I’m paying this lad good money to sing here so shut up and let him do his job!’

Everything improved from that point on, I got back on with my show, they did listen and some applauded after every song and I found the courage to tell a joke or two in between songs. When I’d finished and was having a pint with the landlord and the remaining punters we ended up chatting and laughing away like old pals. I got paid the agreed fee, probably around a tenner back then, and the landlord told me he’d have me back but only if I brought a P.A. system next time.

As first gigs go it was a real eye opener into the difference between folk clubs, where audiences arrived with expectations, wanting to hear you sing your songs, and pubs where you were just an added attraction, a commodity, designed to please the drinkers and keep them in your pub a bit longer than they might have planned to stay.

Happily, as my reputation grew and I learned how to work in pubs, the gigs got a lot easier and more well paid too. Incidentally, I’ve just been reminded by Martin Val Baker the famed South West Music Promoter who did so much for the arts in Penzance and St Ives, to mention just two towns, that The Winter Gardens, scene of many a Folk Concert staged by Martin, was just around the corner from the Alexandra Inn. I would become quite familiar with the Winter Gardens some years later when Martin began to use me and some others as support acts for some fairly well known ‘names’  in the Folk Scene who performed in concerts there.